Gorgeous Sicilian baroque churches, some in full opulence and splendour. Palazzos, one more beautiful than the other, belle epoque or again, baroque. Delightful cuisine spoiling for choice between seafood, pasta cooked to perfection, arancini, cannoli, pizza and gelato to mention just a few. Sea promenades in the evening and sailing Palermo coast with crystal clear waters, majestic bare mountains, hidden treasure like coves and natural reserve Capo di Gallo. Charming fishing villages within 30 minutes drive. So many reasons to visit Palermo! But is it safe? Here are few tips and tricks as well as our take on safe travels in Palermo with kids or without.
For 2018 Italian capital of culture, the safety question could sound very odd. However, it is a perfectly legitimate question. We’ve been in Palermo first time 6 years ago thanks to our good Sicilian friends. We loved Palermo overall but feared it in the same time on some occasions; a mix which is very rare for us. Narrow cobbled streets charming but feeling rather eerily deserted at times; warm hospitable people overall but some with obvious dodgy agendas; dilapidated areas in the middle of the city and stunning palazzos; parking that we could not dare to use unless you bribed some of the local characters.
And Palermo came a long way. 1992 must have been its tipping point when the local mafia killed Borsellino, the chief justice investigating the godfathers of Cosa Nostra and Giovanni Falcone, the judge and mafia bosses’ number one enemy. Palermo airport bears their name and the city pays tribute to many of the heroes and people who refused to give in the historical battles. The urban regeneration is long and impressive.
La Cala, Palermo’s yacht harbour and marina won the International Biennial of Architecture prize in 2015 for his regeneration scheme – historically it used to be rather off-limits, a decaying, rubbish-filled haunt for drug dealers working on behalf of organised crime. A field seized from local bosses, was turned into a play area for disabled children. Giardino della Memoria (the Garden of the Remembrance) was seized from a mafioso in 1993; now is a 25,000 sq m park full of mandarin, lemon and orange trees. A beautiful villa in the countryside that served as a meeting place and business hub for local gangsters is nowadays a Scout headquarter.
This is not a dinner party or street conversation topic nonetheless; but one needs the context to get to understand the story, beauty and the battles of this gorgeous city and residents.
This year we spent 4 days end of May in Palermo and around; loved it again and felt almost at ease. Nowadays it’s rather being mindful of your money change, aware of your bags, children and parking areas. The city is fascinating and buzzing, we’ve indulged sightseeing, dinners and made the most out of its stunning natural surroundings.
For Palermo with kids we warmly recommend a villa with swimming pool Mondello. Villa Constanza spoilt us for 4 days with its extensive gardens, roomy and designer insides, swimming pool, flowers, impeccable kitchen and brand new bedroom furniture and linens. It fits easily 2 couples with 2 sets of kids, if not even more. It also ticks so elegantly the safe travels in Palermo with kids (or without!) with its two sets of gates within the condominium. Quiet, stunning, residential area, 5 minutes drive from Mondello beautiful seaside.
Sailing Palermo coast is also so easy from here! One can hire a boat and skipper the afternoon or morning from Mondello small charming harbour. Be mindful in your negotiations, even for us that we understand well Italian, we only got the full price of the trip fuel included notified at the end.
On the other hand, Euro130 for 2.5 sailing hours 3 adults and 2 kiddies, it’s not that bad afterall. Swimming from the boat in the coves of natural reserve Capo di Gallo is just stunning and we had few stops before SferraCavallo and Isola de Femine.
We also tested swimming in Mondello – just by the lido and superb sea front restaurant Alle Terazze – bliss!
Restaurants wise in Mondello, we tested Alle Terazze with lots of friends – we all loved the Art Nouveau vibes mixed with Philip Starck furniture; the most the unbelievable blue waters and views over the natural reserve Capo di Gallo; the fresh seafood going so nicely with the local version of prosecco.
On the restaurants topic, we also loved Sapori by Lungo del Mare – more precisely Trattoria de Sapori di mare da Giovanni. Perfect even for late night dining, great pasta with mussels and seafood.
Ombelico de Mondo Mondello is the place to go for an aperitivo by the beach and very enjoyable with kids. There’s a little playground in the sand, one can keep an eye on kids from small distance whilst sipping aperols. And of course all parties could dip their toes in the water, have a bite and fun.
For later evenings, once the kids are tucked in bed, the SeaClub is gorgeous – candlelit and prime position by the sea, about 20 minutes drive from Palermo.
The days are easy with the kids in a villa with swimming pool Mondello. Mornings at leisure by the pool, afternoons sailing, early evenings sightseeing Palermo, later by seafront again for a drink or two, and eventually clubbing.
One could easily find iconic movie scenes in Palermo: Godfather series, Sicilian Clan or The Leopard – some emotional and more recent memorabilia from Alain Delon in here. For the contemporary arty souls, there’s also Manifesta and even a handy link for family programme. A Sicilian landmark surounded by gorgeous nature, Palermo with kids (or without ) is definitely something one should put in their 2 weeks or 10 days itinerary in Sicily. And in case you’ve been, we’d love to hear your take on safe travels in Palermo!
PS: For further Sicillian adventures in Egadi islands and a stay in a cave hotel, check our post on 3 days in Favignana. And for proper volcanic adventures and a luxury retreat on Etna, head here – Monaci delle Terre Nere, a former monastery now a sensual boutique hotel, will charm your senses instantly.